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Album Review: Moondance
Matthew Cook
Cover image of the album Moondance by Matthew Cook
Matthew Cook
2005 / Arianna Recordings
50 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
After a series of mellow and soothing solo piano albums, Matthew Cook chose to interpret a collection of songs from his early rock roots. Some of the twelve arrangements are still very easy-going, but a few are more upbeat toe-tappers. A Northern California-based pianist, Cook has been playing in some of the finest resorts and restaurants in the area for more than twenty years, so he knows how to set up a solo piano program that will appeal to a wide variety of ages and personalities. This particular collection will probably grab the middle-aged crowd and have us all singing in the car and the shower. I remember the words to most of these songs, so I’ve had a lot of fun with this album. An excellent pianist, Cook lets the melodies stay front and center in his arrangements, and avoids the common pitfall of too many glissandos and trills.

Four of The Beatles’ songs are included: a smooth and beautiful interpretation of “Something;” a bouncy, joyful rendition of “Lady Madonna;” a jazzy version of “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window;” and the closing track “Things We Said Today,” which is one of my favorites on this CD. I’ve always loved the way this song shifts from major to minor modes, and Cook’s rhythmic arrangement suits the song perfectly. Two of Billy Joel’s earlier songs are here, too. “She’s Always a Woman” and “Just The Way You Are” don’t stray far from the originals, but are still very personal. Cook also has a very tender and sad version of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven.” Another favorite is Cook’s arrangement of “This Masquerade,” which is rhythmic, but still very pensive and melancholy. I love this version of Van Morrison’s “Moondance” with it’s free improvisations - Cook was really “on” with this one!

If you enjoy solo piano arrangements of some of your old favorites, you’ll love this album! It is available from www.matthewcook.com and cdbaby.com. Have fun with this one!
August 21, 2005
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